Internet of Things Phone Smart Charger

I pre-ordered one of the Samsung Galaxy Note7 phones. The ones in the news recently for being an explosion hazard.

I love the new phone – pocket computer really, the way I use it. I wasn’t about to give it up over some silly thing like spontaneous combustion.

I had read that Tesla runs their car batteries between 40%-80% for normal use to maximize the lifetime of their very expensive car batteries. I figured that cell phone batteries would benefit from similar treatment. A bit of research generally confirmed this, with being the most concise write-up. The first half basically demonstrates that you can get the same amount of total power to flow through the battery regardless of how much you charge it – summed over the total life of the power draw in the data tables. The 2nd half is more interesting. It says that high voltage charges and heat shorten the overall lifespan of the battery.

The Note7 is a sealed phone wihtout a replaceable battery. I can’t pull my usual trick of replacing the battery after a year of abusing it.

Heat seams to be the trigger for the phone explosions. So I can make my phone more safe, and make it last longer by managing the top voltage and heat in the battery.

I can do this.

I bought a wireless Qi charger to charge the phone because it charges slower. The fast charger can charge the phone crazy fast, but it gets HOT when it does this. Hot is bad. Thus, slow is good. The wireless charger will also reduce wear on the USB C port. A nice side benefit. No phone explosions while I sleep and burn the house down – this is a good thing.

I bought a Belkin WEMO wifi controlled outlet. It is If-This-Than-That ( capable so I can control it from my phone. There are other smart plugs available that will work, this is simply the one I could find in a store that I could verify would work with IFTTT.

I configured IFTTT to have 2 different actions. One for turning the WeMo on, the other off. I set these up as Maker Channel triggered recipes. There are other triggers that you can use such as email or SMS, but I am a web developer, so web-based triggers are a natural fit for me.

Image of The Rules set up in IFTTT
The Rules set up in IFTTT
Photo of the IFTTT Off rule
The OFF rule in IFTTT. It uses the Maker Chanel for the trigger, which means a web request will trigger this. It turns off the WeMo controlling the wireless phone charger.

I installed Tasker on the phone and configured it to monitor charge state and battery temperature.

I created 3 tasks, one to turn the charger on, and two to turn it off.

photo of Tasker rules
The rules in Tasker to control the phone charging.

The ON trigger looks for the battery to be below 80% charged, and below 35 degrees Celsius. This will make a request to the Maker Chanel URL for ON.

One OFF trigger looks at the battery temperature. 35.1 degrees or higher. The other OFF trigger looks for the battery charge to be 90% or higher. These two both make a web request to the Maker Chanel OFF URL I set up.

So now as the phone battery heats up or gets close to full, the phone tells the charger to turn off. I let the phone have a 10% charge window so I am not toggling the switch and charger on and off all night long.

Tasker with both OFF rules turned on. The phone is both charged to 90% or more as well as running hotter than I would like.
Tasker with both OFF rules turned on. The phone is both charged to 90% or more as well as running hotter than I would like.

I also programed the WeMo to turn itself on a little while before my alarm is set to go off. This is to let the battery be closer to 90% charged rather than 80% charged when I wake up. I haven’t found the right time for this yet. I still need to play with it a bit.

I know there are other ways to make a smart phone charger. This is what I came up with. I will be getting an additional smart plug and building one for at the office so I don’t over-charge my phone when at work. I will try a different brand likely to see if I can come up with a cheaper way.

Got the old forge lit today

I made a fire steel. A friend came over and he worked on a small hatchet from an old hammer. He also helped my eldest start a fire with a Ferro Rod. Her first fire. She was struggling, but pushed through the frustration, and succeeded!

In album 8/14/16

Drawing a BB8 hooded sweatshirt.

A month ago or so I found a gray Star Wars hooded sweatshirt at Walmart. A couple of weeks ago, I decided I wanted to draw BB8 onto it. This weekend I found the markers & paints I wanted to try, and gave it a go.

I used parts for a 3d printer I am building – a projector and a Raspberry Pi tiny computer – to project an image onto the sweatshirt. I than traced the image with the markers.

I used metallic gold, silver, & bronze Sharpie markers for most of the drawing as well as a black fabric marker for the dark details. I didn’t want to use a black sharpie as I felt it would be too dark – they are too good.

I am really liking the soft effect. It looks good at a distance, but up close you kind of lose the drawing visually. After some wearing and a wash, it should be pretty subtle.

I want to add some more details. The different round ports going up one sleeve. I also need to do something on the back. I am thinking some sort of exploded view or more technical drawing. I just haven’t decided what I want yet. The other sleeve will get the morse code alphabet or something as the droids ‘speak’ in beeps and whistles.

Thoughts on headphones

I don’t like loud noises. I use an electric lawn mower because it’s quieter than a gas mower. I prefer to use my old-fashioned reel mower because it’s quieter than my electric mower. I have carried a set of earplugs in my pocket everywhere I go for a couple of years now.

I am not much of a music person. Don’t like concerts, too loud. I had a roommate in college who is a true audiophile, so I learned a little bit about the technology from him. He built me a custom speaker set that I turn down real low, for rich sound. I will probably keep these speakers for the rest of my life. I like them that much.

I’d not put much thought into headphones until a couple of years ago, when I had to move from a private office to a community office. I decided to get a set of headphones so I can drown out my office mates.

I thought I wanted a set of bluetooth noise cancelling headphones. I can’t afford such a beast. I found a bluetooth Sony sports headphones at BigLots for $30. These were good. I needed to turn them up a good amount to overcome the room noise.

Then I found a bone conduction bluetooth phone headset. The aftershokz bluez 2. I love these! I bought a set of in-ear shooting ear plugs to use in conjunction with the headset. Bone Conduction audio doesn’t push noise into your ear, it vibrates your jaw-bone instead. The headset doesn’t cover or block the ears, it sits in front of your ears. Wonderful device. You can have a conversation just fine with them on. In the office, I would stick in the shooting earplugs and be in my own little world. One of my favorite uses is while driving. I can have a conversation in the car and have the phone navigation system on the headset. I just love these. Wore them every day, every day for over a year.

Really, these things are just awesome. I love them.

Like anything made from plastic that gets used all day, every day, they broke. Buttons fell out which I used thread to tie back on. One of the temple pieces broke which I taped back up. Really, I need to get the newer model as they fix the few issues I had with the current set, but I can’t really justify $100 on something that I already have, even if broken but functional.

I just discovered a noise cancelling headphones set at Aldi. $30. I bought them for my wife, she goes through cheap headphones frequently. A pair a year or so. I thought I would get her a good set of headphones for a change. Right after I bought them, I borrowed them for a work trip to Rhode Island. I fell in love with them on the plane. Noise cancelling headphones are designed for airplanes I think. They have microphones in them that listen to the noise around them, and then play back a sound that will cancel out the sounds they hear. They emit a very faint his that you can hear if you listen closely. They knock most of that engine and air noise down to nearly nothing. I think half of my discomfort on planes is the noise – the other half is that my 6’4″ self doesn’t fit in them. They don’t do much reduction on people talking to you, maybe 25%? They do seem to help with that background drone of many people’s voices.

I liked them so much I bought a pair for myself, and another pair for a friend.

I was fiddling with them at work today. I plugged them into my computer, and turned the sound all the way down with the volume buttons, then up 1 press. I started playing some music at 50% volume on the music app. The sound is basically turned down all the way. You can’t hear the sound on the computer speakers. Using the headphones, you can barely hear the sound until the noise cancellation is turned on. All the noise from the air handlers and machines in the building just goes away, and music plays. This is how quiet I like noises. Basically no sound. It’s amazing how loud my building is.

So, it seems I like 2 extremes. Headphones that either completely cut out the noise from the outside world, and those that don’t cover the ears and block sound at all.